We are all looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact, whether that’s holding your weekly shop in your arms over opting for a plastic bag or having your reusable water bottle always in tow.
The beauty industry, in particular, is one of the biggest offenders of single-use plastic waste but until recently, there were few alternatives.
From refillable and recyclable packaging, to plastic-free alternatives, some of the biggest beauty brands in the biz are getting creative with ways to reduce waste. But one of the more surprising solutions goes back to basics in the form of solid bars. We’ve seen a massive resurgence in soap bars as well as shampoo and perfume in solid form, but the latest, cleansing bars may just be the most innovative yet.
Forget all preconceived ideas of drying and harsh soap bars, these sustainable solutions are not like their predecessors. They are jam-packed with natural and skin-friendly ingredients that will not strip your face’s natural barrier with harsh preservatives or sud-inducing detergents. Many formulations have been reinvented without chemicals like SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) to nourish skin, remove oil, dirt or makeup and some even have exfoliating properties.
While our beauty routines are progressively getting more complicated and scientific with a new beauty buzz word every week, there is something comforting about the simplicity of this beauty hero that is gentle, cost-efficient and eco-friendly.
Cleansing bars also tend to be housed in minimal packaging like recyclable cardboard or cork boxes to help you in your fight against excess plastic.
See our favourites
Drunk Elephant Juju Bar
Free your beauty routine from toxins and harsh chemicals with this cleanser from Drunk Elephant. The entire range is free from essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance/dyes and SLS. The three-in-one bar works to gently cleanse, exfoliate and detoxify skin. It is made up of thermal mud, bamboo powder and marula oil to declog pores and will leave your skin feeling nourished and rehydrated.
£24 | Cult Beauty | Buy it now
Gallinée Cleansing Bar
Gallinée uses a scientifically-formulated combination of prebiotics to nourish the skin and lactic acid, a gentler AHA with collagen-boosting and hydrating effects. The result is a versatile bar that cleanses and soothes. It is derived from 75 per cent natural origin ingredients, is cruelty-free and can be used for both the face and body.
£10 | Gallinée | Buy it now
Gritty Politti Naked Cleansing Balm
One of the pioneers in the anti-plastic movement, Lush offers a whole host of innovative solutions to reducing waste. The Gritty Politti Naked Cleansing Balm will help you reap the rewards of the nourishing ingredients like Cupuaçu butter, while also gently exfoliating with ground coconut shells.
£5 | Lush | Buy it now
ARgENTUM le savon lune Illuminating Hydration Bar
The first time I used this facial cleansing soap I was amazed by its makeup removing ablity — not a trace of face paint remained. Occasional breakouts have been reduced to extinction, and despite the lack of any grainy texture, it exfoliates better than most scrubs I've tested. It's wildly expenisve, but it has lasted me the better part of year. It's the most expensive beauty product I own — and my most coveted by a mile.
- Jessica Reynolds, ES Best editor
£104 | Space NK | Buy it now
Avène Cold Cream Ultra Rich Cleansing Bar
PSA for those with sensitive skin, Avène should be most definitely be on your radar. The brand specialises in hydrating heroes for sensitive skin and their cold cream cleansing bar has become perennially popular. Composed of Beeswax and the brand’s signature Thermale Spring Water, it's a strong choice to soothe problematic skin and inject moisture back into dry or dull complexions.
£4.50 | Look Fantastic | Buy it now
SUBLIMAGE Le Savon de Soin
You can count on Chanel to produce an ultra-luxurious take on a classic soap bar. The Savon de Soin has a creamy texture that results in a soft lather that will not strip your skin of its natural oils. It works to cleanse and purify, leaving you with a fresh complexion without overdrying thanks to the inclusion of shea butter.
£80 | Chanel | Buy it now
Herbivore Pink Clay Cleansing Bar Soap
Not only will this colourful cleansing bar fit seamlessly in with your carefully curated shelfie but you will also be able to make the most of the all-natural ingredients to transform your beauty routine. Herbivore offer three variations of soaps made from premium plant-based ingredients that provide a deep and thorough cleanse. The Pink Clay is designed to remove impurities, while nourishing the skin through the combination of geranium oil and blood orange oil.
£10 | Cult Beauty | Buy it now
Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar
Introduce the world-famous “Laszlo Glow” in to your regime with the brand’s Dead Sea Mud bar that is brimming with minerals. The skincare label that counted the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly among its celebrity clientele created this product to draw out impurities, gently exfoliate and encourage your skin’s natural regeneration.
£35 | Feel Unique | Buy it now
Baxter of California Deep Cleansing Bar Charcoal Clay
Grooming label Baxter of California has added this cleansing bar to its range of men’s beauty heroes to treat your face, beard or body to the care it deserves. The formulation includes the detoxifying combination of Kaolin and Bentonite Clay with Glycerin and Coconut Oil that will leave your skin feeling nourished and hydrated.
£16 | Look Fantastic | Buy it now
Disciple Skincare Clean Slate Cleansing Bar
This innovative solution to over-packaging comes from Disciple Skincare that has the added bonus of a string hanging for easy storage. It is crafted from activated charcoal, almond oil and antibacterial tea tree to rebalance, detoxify and help you fight against blemishes.
£10 | Cult Beauty | Buy it now
Estée Lauder Nutritious Micro-Algae Cleansing Bar
A nutrient-rich cold-pressed micro-algae blend works in this bar to leave your skin looking fresh, protected and deeply cleansed. The innovative formula helps to remove makeup and impurities, while also fighting against free radical damage caused by pollution.
£20 | Look Fantastic | Buy it now
From the outset, you will see why cult label Drunk Elephant has earned its stripes. The cleansing bar gets results, working to deeply cleanse your skin while gently exfoliating. Your skin will be left looking and feeling soft and smooth – and what’s better than that?